Innovation Alliance Biosurfactants

The aim of the alliance is to economically produce functionally optimized biosurfactants from domestic renewable raw and residual materials using biotechnological methods. The production and purification of such biosurfactants are to be optimized to enable their use in the application areas detergents and cleaning agents, cosmetics, bioremediation, crop protection and food as an alternative to chemically synthesized surfactants.

© Fraunhofer CBP

The Innovation Alliance Biosurfactants is the first strategic alliance in Germany between renowned companies and research institutions to produce functionally optimized biotechnologically produced surfactants starting from domestic renewable raw materials and residual materials in an economical way. By systematic investigation of the performance profile, production and purification of these biosurfactants are to be optimized in such a way that they can be used in application areas such as detergents and cleaners, cosmetics, bioremediation, crop protection and food as an alternative to chemically synthesized surfactants.

Within the Innovation Alliance, various surfactants are to be produced by fermentation or enzymatic reaction. By using various microorganisms, enzymes and raw materials, such as different sugars and fatty acids of variable chain lengths, the surface active properties of these biosurfactants can be varied over a wide range, thus optimizing their functional properties. This structure-based development enables the definition and production of  biosurfactant molecules with functional properties adapted to the application.

The companies in the consortium investigate the specific properties and the performance profile of the new biosurfactant molecules already at an early stage. The developed prioritized biosurfactants will be produced biotechnologically, the processes optimized for a high space-time yield and efficient purification processes will be developed.

Throughout the entire process chain, sustainability analysis and evaluation of the renewable raw materials used, the processes and obtained products, a techno-economic evaluation, an assessment of the technological maturity of the processes and an estimation of the market relevance of the developed products are carried out in parallel to the development.

A second funding phase has been approved: Alliance Biosurfactants – Phase 2

Video: Biosurfactants from renewable raw materials

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Project information

Project title

Allianz Biotenside – Innovation Alliance Biosurfactants


Project duration

January 2018 – December 2020


Project partners


  • AnalytiCon Discovery GmbH, Potsdam
  • BASF SE, Ludwigshafen
  • Biotensidon GmbH, Karlsruhe
  • DALLI-WERKE GmbH & Co. KG, Stolberg (Coordination)
  • Festo AG & Co. KG, Esslingen
  • Henkel AG & Co. KGaA, Düsseldorf
  • Pfeifer & Langen GmbH & Co. KG, Köln
  • Insilico Biotechnology AG, Stuttgart
  • Hermetia Baruth GmbH, Baruth/Mark Brandenburg

Research institutions

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, Stuttgart (Coordination)
  • Karlsruher Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe
  • Technical University of Munich, Munich
  • University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart
  • University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart


We would like to thank the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for funding the project "Innovation Alliance Biosurfactants" in the "Innovation Initiative for Industrial Biotechnology" program.

Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


Scientific publications

Beck, A., and Zibek, S. (2020). Growth Behavior of Selected Ustilaginaceae Fungi Used for Mannosylerythritol Lipid (MEL) Biosurfactant Production – Evaluation of a Defined Culture Medium. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 8.

Oraby, A., Werner, N., Sungur, Z., and Zibek, S. (2020). Factors Affecting the Synthesis of Cellobiose Lipids by Sporisorium scitamineum. Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 8.


Final project report

The final reports on the first funding phase of the Biosurfactants Alliance are available in German on the TIB portal:

Schlussbericht Teilprojekt 2: Optimierung und Etablierung der mikrobiellen Herstellung und Aufarbeitung von Cellobiose- und Mannosylerythritollipiden

Final reports of all sub-projects within the first funding phase